Commerce Ministry seeks detailed inputs from stakeholders for proposed India-UK FTA

Amiti SenNew Delhi, July 6 New Delhi | Updated on July 06, 2021

Gives time till July 25 for suggestions on market access, data protection, fixation rights in IPs

To maximise benefits from the proposed India-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the Commerce Ministry has sent out a detailed consultation format to trade and industry associations and other stakeholders for listing out precisely their priority areas, specific areas of interest, justifiable suggestions on what the pact should achieve, existing positions & challenges and concerns related to the exercise.

“A deadline of July 25 has been set for inputs from stakeholders and the general public on the proposed India-UK FTA as the exercise is time-bound and the government has to firm up its negotiating stance based on the inputs,” an official told BusinessLine.

“It is understood that an FTA with the UK would allow us to explore futuristic opportunities in trade and investment by making exports easier and promoting investment flows. This would also enable greater access to Indian service providers looking to facilitate services exports and will enable domestic consumers to access a wider range of products and services at competitive rates,” the communication stated.

Inclusive trade policy

The Centre is committed to an inclusive trade policy that takes account of the views of all the stakeholders, it added. The suggestions are to be e-mailed to the government.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson agreed on an ‘Enhanced Trade Partnership’ at a virtual summit in May this year laying the roadmap for more than doubling bilateral trade by 2030 and declaring their intention to negotiate an FTA. Among European countries, the UK was in the top five list accounting for bilateral trade worth $12.29 billion with India in 2020-21.

The UK is interested in an FTA with India mostly because after its exit from the EU, it wants to consolidate its trade and investment relations with major economic partners through lowering of barriers. India, on the other hand, is keen on the FTA as lower tariffs for certain items, such as textiles and leather, would increase the competitiveness of Indian exporters and liberal visa norms could allow professionals easier entry into the UK. Moreover, New Delhi is also focussing on forging FTAs that are not influenced by China in any way.

Specific areas

In the consultation format, the Commerce Ministry asked stakeholders to identify specific areas of interest such as apparels or pharmaceuticals in the area of market access for goods, information technology in the area of services, data protection or data localisation in area of digital and fixation rights/single equitable remuneration in the area of intellectual property.

Stakeholders have also been asked to provide specific justifiable suggestions on what they would want the Indian government to achieve through an FTA with the UK. These could include demands in the area of tariff liberalisation, identification of other market access issues faced, identification of items where tariff levels must be retained by India, listing of sectors in which domestic industry is under expansion and inputs/intermediate goods are procured from the UK and procedures related to customs and/or certifications that are cumbersome.

The UK is hopeful that formal negotiations with India would begin by the year-end.

The country is seeking reduction of import duties on cars in India, which ranges between 60 per cent and 100 per cent, as well as wines and spirits with import duties between 100 per cent and 150 per cent. It also wants more access in services such as legal and financial, including banking and insurance.

Published on July 06, 2021

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